Earlier this year, I turned another year older. As I slowly approach three decades on planet earth, it’s inevitable to reflect on what is yet to come in my life. Especially after enduring a global pandemic and living yet another year in a semi-lockdown, my reflection and mind-wandering is at an all-time high. I have started to review my childhood and where I came from, how I got to the point I am at now and what’s next.
Despite all the twists and turns this year, and all that life has presented, I am enjoying the journey more than ever. I would not be where I am now without all the experiences I’ve had.
I often wonder what my life would be like if I could have told my younger self about how life really works. I could have dissolved some of the harmful preconceptions and assumptions I had. This is an unrealistic impossibility, but something to reflect on.
In the hopes that it might be helpful to others on their own journey, here are some things I wish I could tell my younger self.
Be kind to yourself
One thing I would say is to be less hard on myself, and to give the same amount of leeway that I give to others to myself. Whatever will happen will happen, and whatever is meant to be will be. We are all on our own life path and what might happen at 20-years-old for one person might happen at age 60 for another. If you work for what you want it will eventually come around to you, there is no point in being hard on yourself when you are trying your best. It all starts with positive self-talk. Positive self-talk makes you feel good about yourself and what you have going on in your life. It is like having an optimistic voice in your head that is always looking on the bright side.
Saving money is important, but so is the adventure
Something I and many others worry about is money. Saving money and not spending beyond your means is extremely important, but so is treating yourself and spending money on what will make you truly happy. Go on that trip. Book that adventure. Go out for that dinner with friends. In university, I had the opportunity to go to Australia on exchange. I was extremely nervous about the financial portion of it. Would my money be better spent otherwise? Would I be able to buy a house sooner into adulthood? What I realized in hindsight was that ultimately, you can’t buy back memories. I went to Australia and had the time of my life. I learned lessons and grew there in ways I never would have otherwise. Enjoying your life, experiencing the world and expanding your horizons is what you will remember at the end of your days, not how much money you have in your bank account.
Friends come and go, and that’s okay
It’s only natural to think your best friend at any moment in time will be your best friend for life. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and that’s okay. People’s lives ebb and flow, and relationships can naturally grow apart. It’s likely not personal, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. But knowing this doesn’t mean you should be less vulnerable. Connect deeply with people and put in effort to improve your relationships. Continue to be open-minded to meeting new people and benefit from new friends, even if they don’t stay in your life forever. The memories, good times and laughter will still all be worth it.
Have more confidence in yourself
External validation is nice, but real confidence comes from within. You can frequently receive positive reinforcement and still feel dejected and underappreciated. It’s important to learn how to be confident with yourself instead of turning over a part of your happiness to other people. By becoming more confident, you can fulfill more of your own needs and avoid that disappointment when the external validation doesn’t happen. Impostor syndrome is real, but being able to recognize that you are worthy and in the exact place you are supposed to be will help combat that.
Live and let live
Finally, I would tell myself to just live and let live. In other words, let things be and don’t get too worked up about what you have no control over. You will be happier for it and be more grateful for life’s journey. Let the negatives roll off your back and don’t fester on immaterial circumstances. In the end, it will all be alright—I promise!
I am continuously learning on my journey, but these core principles have helped me navigate my everyday life. I hope you are able to apply these learnings to your own life and perhaps avoid some of the mishaps I’ve stumbled on.